Childhood Lead Poisoning

Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Babies and young children can have higher exposure to lead because they often put their hands and other objects into their mouths that can have lead from dust or soil on them. There are several other ways that children can be exposed to lead:
  • By eating and drinking food or water containing lead;
  • From dishes or glasses that contain lead;
  • Inhaling lead dust from lead-based paint or lead-contaminated soil; or
  • From playing with toys painted with lead paint.
Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Lower IQ and Hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing Problems
  • Anemia
  • In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death
Reduce Lead Hazards:
  • Ask about lead hazards when buying or renting a home. Look for chipping, peeling, chalking paint or lead dust. Lead dust is usually found in windows, doorways, porches and on the ground near porches or garages.
  • Have your home checked for lead by a licensed lead risk assessor. Always hire a lead abatement contractor with special training to properly treat or remove lead hazards.
  • Have children wash their hands before eating. Wash toys and pacifiers often. To play a game that teaches children to wash their hands and reduce lead hazards: Click Here!
  • Serve your child food that can reduce the amount of lead in the body. These include foods with calcium (such as milk and yogurt), iron (such as lean red meats and cereals that have iron), and vitamin C (such as oranges and tomatoes).
What do I do if I think my child or I have been exposed to lead?

Talk to your pediatrician, general physician, or local health agency about what you can do. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check you or your child for lead exposure. You may also want to have your home tested for sources of lead.

Contact us at (216) 263-LEAD (5323) to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem, or you can contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Clicking Here!

Get Kids Tested:
  • Test children every year between the ages of 1 year and 6 years.
  • Children not tested between the ages of 1 and 4 years should be tested at least once between 5 and 6 years.
  • Know your child’s blood lead level. Blood levels of 5 and above are harmful.
How do I know if my child should be tested for lead?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, your child may be at risk for lead poisoning and should be tested:
  • Have Medicaid including Healthy Family or Healthy Start Insurance?
  • Live in Cleveland or an inner ring suburb?
  • Live in or visit a house that has peeling, chipping, dusting, or chalking paint?
  • Live in or visit a house built before 1978 with recent, ongoing, or planned renovation or remodeling?
  • Have a sibling or playmate that has or did have lead poisoning?
  • Frequently come into contact with an adult who has a hobby or job involving lead?
What should I do if my child’s test results show elevated blood lead levels?

The most important actions are to lower lead exposure in the places where your child spends time within your home. Blood lead levels will come down if sources of lead are cleaned up or removed.
  • For more information on steps you can take to reduce lead in your child’s environment, Click Here!
  • For more information regarding help with making lead hazard repairs to your home, see the information box below.

Application and Eligibility Information on Free Lead Hazard Repairs

Residents and homeowners who meet income guidelines may participate in this program. Please call 216-263-LEAD (5323) for questions and CLICK HERE to download an application for lead hazard repairs for your home.

The goal of the Lead Hazard Repair Program is to assist in the efforts to increase lead-safe affordable housing while eliminating childhood lead poisoning in the City of Cleveland. In addition to repairs, the Lead Hazard Repair Program provides lead risk assessments, identifies lead–based paint in homes, and provides education on maintenance practices and other lead prevention information. The program strives to use a single approach to address various housing, health, and safety needs of homeowners to improve the quality of our homes and health of our communities in the City of Cleveland.